During his former life as a federal prosecutor, Mark Costello wrote under the pseudonym "John Flood." Now that his second novel, Big If, has been nominated for a 2002 National Book Award for Fiction, Costello's real name is now sure to be on the lips of many more readers.
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Also Known As:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
July 3, 1962
Place of Birth:
B.A., Amherst College, 1984; J.D., Yale Law School, 1988
|2002 National Book Award Finalist|
Esquire called Costello’s second novel -- a darkly comic look at the secret lives of Secret Service agents -- “a wonderfully detailed book that's altogether rich and enriching, human and humane.” And Corrections author Jonathan Franzen proclaims Big If to be “alive with intelligence, comedy, and inside dope ... [it] sure-handedly captures the uncertainties of our times.”
Read an excerpt
|Costello's Street Cred|
|Published while he was an assistant D.A. in Manhattan -- well before he was a bestselling novelist -- Costello’s first-ever book was Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present. A nonfiction analysis of hip-hop music co-written with Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace in 1990, it's not quite the tome either author will be remembered for. However, it was called "a vivid picture of rap's real-life context" by Publishers Weekly all the same.|
|A Debut on the Down-Low||Costello's Favorites|
For his first novel, 1996's Bag Men -- a thriller about a murdered priest set in 1965 Boston -- Costello decided to use the pen name "John Flood” to avoid any conflicts of interest with his then-career as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey. As he explained to Bookweb.org, “I really didn't want it to be read as a sort of tell-all expose thing…. It may have been overly conscientious to use a pen name, but I felt it was just the right thing to do."
Though he never took a writing class, Costello has learned much from the writers whose work he loves. In an interview with Barnes & Noble.com, Costello mentioned Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, and Don DeLillo’s Libra among his favorites. On DeLillo, he raved, “DeLillo is the Babe Ruth of U.S. fiction; untouchable.”